Sunday, December 19, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 7 Pretzel Bark

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love baked for me.....

Pretzel Bark

Amid all of the richness of Holiday desserts it's nice to see some white chocolate. 

This recipe calls for three ingredients, it's quick and the results are amazing.

I've tried making this recipe with chocolate bark and found the result was not quite as good. I think with a little vanilla bark mixed in the taste would be just right. 

Vanilla Bark

1 pkg vanilla bark
2 cups salted peanuts
3 cups skinny pretzels broken into pieces

Microwave vanilla bark in large bowl for 1 minute intervals until it stirs smooth.

Add in peanuts and pretzels and evenly coat with vanilla bark.

Spoon onto cookie sheet lined with parchment or wax paper. Spread evenly and allow to cool. Once cool break into pieces.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 8 Chocolate Mint Cookies

On the 8th day of Christmas my true love baked for me..... 

Chocolate Mint Cookies

I actually baked these cookies for the first time over the summer. I was visiting one of my friends and she suggested we bake chocolate mint cookies. The thought had never crossed my mind and I admit I was a little wary... but I was pleasantly surprised. They tasted the best straight out of the oven. They were so good i've decided to add them to my annual Christmas baking list. 

 I also modified this recipe for chocolate chocolate chip cookies which I have been trying to master since I was 9 years old. 12 years later and i've finally found the recipe i've been wanting all these years. Most chocolate cookie recipes are either too dry or too cakey. This one was just perfect.

This recipe can be found here.
 Instead of placing an andes mint on top of each cookie I mixed half a bag of andes mint baking pieces into the batter. 

The 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 6 Chocolate Eclairs

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love baked for me.....

Chocolate Eclairs

These are super simple to throw together and again you only need a few ingredients. I created this little dessert at the last minute when I had some guests coming over for dinner.

These can also be baked in circular form by using a small round cookie cutter but I feel that it is a waste of pastry dough. Perhaps i'll try squares on day to make them more bite sized.

Chocolate Eclairs

1 pkg cream cheese, softened
1 pkg puff pastry thawed
1/2c sugar
1 ounce bakers chocolate
powdered sugar for sprinkling

Cut thawed sheet of puff pastry into rectangles on cookie sheet. Bake as directed and allow to cool.

Whip cream cheese and sugar together until well blended.

Cut puff pastry in half and fill with cream cheese mixture.

Melt chocolate square in microwave for 30 second intervals until it stirs smooth. Drizzle chocolate over eclairs and sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 9 Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

On the 9th day of Christmas my true love baked for me.... 

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

This is my go to recipe. I bake these cookies all the time. They're a crowd pleaser and my friends often request them.

And also my favorite cookie of all time.

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies (adapted from a Nestle recipe)
                        1 ¼ C flour
                        ½ tsp baking soda
                        ½ teaspoon salt
                        1 ½ stick of butter softened (¾ C)
                        ½ C sugar
                        ½ cup brown sugar
                        ½ C chunky peanut butter
                        1 large egg
                        1 tsp vanilla extract
                        12 oz pkg. milk chocolate chips
1.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.     Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter with mixer until creamy.
3.     Beat in egg and vanilla extract.
4.     Gradually beat in flour, baking soda and salt.
5.     Stir in morsels.
6.     Spoon batter onto baking sheets.
7.     Bake for 7 to 10 minutes.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The 12 days of Christmas Baking: Day 10 Chocolate Peanut Candy

On the 10th day of Christmas my true love baked for me...

Chocolate Peanut Candy

This chocolate candy is one of my favorite things to make. The chocolate is actually three different chocolate varieties which keeps it smooth and sweet.

Chocolate Peanut Candy

2C unsalted dry roasted peanuts
2C salted dry roasted peanuts
1 bag semisweet chocolate chips
1 bag milk chocolate chips
1 pkg almond bark

Layer ingredients in crockpot in order of list of ingredients. Turn crockpot on low and stir after two hours. Drop onto parchment paper and allow to cool.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 12 Days of Christmas Baking: Day 11 Blossom Cookies

On the 11th day of Christmas my true love baked for me.....

Blossom Cookies

Peanut butter and chocolate is one of my favorite flavor pairings. Simple to make and wonderfully delicious.

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies 

1 C butter*
1C sugar*
1C brown sugar*
2 eggs beaten
1C peanut butter*
3C flour**
2 tsp soda**
¼ tsp salt**
1 tsp vanilla*
1 pkg hershey kisses unwrapped

add eggs and vanilla. Mix with flour mixture.
Roll into small balls and place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees for 7 to 10 mins. Press 1 hershey kiss into each cookie before cooled. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The 12 days of Christmas Baking: Day 12 Sugar Cut Out Cookies

On the 12th day of Christmas my True Love Baked for Me.....

Sugar cut out cookies. One of my favorite parts of Christmas and also the bane of my existence. Two Christmases ago I make some cut out sugar cookies but they turned out kinda puffy and my icing wasn't quite right. Last Christmas I struggled so much with them that I eventually gave up and threw away my batch of dough. It's very unlike me, but in my defense I was in a huge baking rut at the time. This Christmas I was determined to make some killer sugar cut out cookies.

 I decided that part of my problem with cut out sugar cookies is that I'm always determined to use all 30 of my cookie cutters and use every color of frosting under the sun. I decided to streamline my baking so I wouldn't stress myself out. I chose three shapes and used sprinkles instead of different colored icings. I also chilled the cookies on the cookie sheets in between batches to prevent them from puffing up in the oven.

Christmas trees, snowflakes and candy canes!

My favorite was the snowflake although I think they would have looked better with some blue sprinkles.

I had a little bit of extra dough leftover so I had to make some miniature sugar cookies for my dog. 

Sugar Cookie Cutouts (from Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Baking)

2/3c butter softened
3/4c granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 Tb milk
1 tsp vanilla
2c all-purpose flour

Beat butter on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined.

Add egg, milk and vanilla and beat until combined.

Gradually beat in flour with mixer.

Divide dough in half, cover and chill 30mins or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

On a floured surface roll out cookie dough to 1/4in thickness. Cut into desired shapes. Place 1in apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 7 to 10 mins or until edges are firm or very light brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Powdered Sugar Icing

Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4tsp vanilla and 1 Tb milk. Add more milk 1 tsp at a time if necessary.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mini-Pepperoni Pizza

Homemade pizza brings back childhood memories when my mother would make us homemade pizzas on the weekend or for when we had friends spend the night. Homemade pizzas are the best because you get to make it exactly as you'd like it, baked to just the right gooey goodness. I've been meaning to make a homemade pizza for awhile and when I saw these mini pepperonis at the grocery store I couldn't resist. They were adorable. They were marketed to be used in pasta but I thought they'd be just fine on top of a pizza.

I found a recipe for pizza dough i've been wanting to try but I was crunched for time so I just bought the pillsbury refrigerated pizza dough and reworked it into a round shape. Instead of using pizza sauce I used canned fire roasted garlic tomatoes. I also used a block of mozzarella that I shredded myself. It's cheaper than buying the packaged shredded cheese and I also read that additives are added into the packaged shredded cheese that hinders it from melting as well.  

They were right! The block of cheese melted much better than the shredded cheese. Before I put the pizza in the oven I did toss some shredded parmesan cheese on top for a little zip.

The mini-pepperonis were very cute. My dog loved them as well. The garlic fire roasted tomatoes were a little much for me. I think  next time I will see if I can find some plain roasted tomatoes. I also can't wait to try the mini pepperonis on some homemade mini pizzas.